Sudden Silence? Why Local Media Have Shut Up About Iraqi-Saudi Arabia Wikileaks Scandal
In late June, the whistle blowing organisation, Wikileaks, published a raft of formerly confidential documents said to have come from inside Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
While some Western media said that the documents seemed to “contain no shocking revelations about Saudi Arabia”, their contents made big news in Iraq.
The main reason for this is that senior Iraqi politicians were implicated in the papers, having allegedly been working behind the scenes with Saudi diplomats. Just the fact that the politicians have contact with Saudi officials is arousing enough, given the strained ties between the two countries.
But other documents also implied that the Iraqi politicians were given favours or money in return for some kind of assistance within Iraq – mostly this assistance had to do with countering Iranian – and in some cases, therefore Shiite Muslim – influence, inside Iraq.
For example, as the New York Times reported: “Cables about Iraq suggest efforts to support politicians who opposed [Nouri] al-Maliki, then the Shiite prime minister of Iraq, who was close to Iran. One said the [Saudi Arabian] kingdom had given 2,000 pilgrimage visas to Maliki’s chief rival, Ayad Allawi, to distribute as he saw fit”.
Other cables noted that Saudi Arabia donated money to certain Kurdish political groups in Iraq’s north and another claimed that senior Sunni Muslim politician Osama al-Nujaifi, currently one of Iraq’s three deputy Presidents, who previously represented serious Sunni opposition to the Shiite government, received many millions of dollars in funding.
As a result of all of this and more, there have been calls inside Iraq for those implicated to be trialled for treason and potentially executed for spying; locals in Iraq remain very suspicious about outside interference in their country from neighbours like Iran and Saudi Arabia.